Corpus Linguistics & Bearing Arms


Digital “corpus linguistics” is an old idea using a new tool in interpreting the meaning of documents. It uses deep data searches for words and phrases in documents recorded through the centuries to try to glean from context accurate understanding of their import.

From Dennis Baron at the Duke Center for Firearms Law: “Corpus linguistics, which some hail as better than dictionaries for legal interpretation, allows us to access and analyze vast swaths of digitized text going back to the fourteenth century.” (Note the word “some”, which is not referenced.)

Further clarifying the Center’s thinking, “… it’s not clear that the [Second A]mendment ever had a single shared meaning, or if it did, whether that meaning is recoverable… . The best we can hope for when investigating any older text is to examine how it was discussed around the time it was written and to use historical sources to glean the meaning of any difficult or ambiguous words or phrases. And even so, there’s no guarantee that a reasonable reader in 1791 would interpret the Second Amendment the same way as their equally-reasonable neighbor. When the Supreme Court said in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) that it had determined the original public meaning of the Second Amendment, its reading, like any linguistic interpretation, involved both an examination of the text and a certain amount of guesswork.”

The DCFL contends that because nearly all the examples they find of the phrase “bear arms” in the English language are used to refer to military conduct, the Second Amendment must only guarantee “the people” the right to “bear arms” in the service of the state (i.e., a state-appointed militia). Just so they don’t look entirely one-sided, Baron does qualify “… [I]t’s not clear that any text has one single, original meaning that everyone would have shared.”

Yet the militia developed from the beginning of the colonial period as groups of townsmen who came together to provide for their mutual protection, at first from Native attacks, which continued on the frontier in the late 1700’s and much of the following century. The tradition of a respected local civic or military officer calling them together endured right through the Revolution, where the Colonies’ militias were simply the assembled groups of local ones under the command of elected leaders. This was still essentially individuals making their own decisions to come together, exercising their Second Amendment rights “to keep and bear [their own individual military-grade] arms” in the common defense, an extension of their pre-existing right to self-defense. It was nothing like the progressives’ imagining a state-run military Reserve or National Guard unit established, supplied, and commanded by government.

The good part here is that the anti-gun industry is having to stretch farther and farther to come up with pseudo-scientific approaches to use against the ordinary, common-sense meaning of “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Of course, Barron also quotes the amicus brief by Everytown for Gun Safety [sic] in NYSRPA v. Corlett to say that “… America [was] never [a] place … where people carried weapons freely and routinely, particularly in urban areas.” Utter nonsense, which anyone familiar with American history through the entire 19th century could refute.

The point this linguistic method makes is that “… nonmilitary uses of bear arms are almost nonexistent in any sort of text” of the Founding era—not unexpected, given that generation’s concern that “the people” must be equipped to man “militias” in the event of war, exactly as reflected in the prefatory clause to the Second Amendment. But let’s ask, how exactly are “the people” supposed to get the arms they “keep” at home to the militia’s gathering place if they don’t have the equal right to “bear” them to there, as well as in battle?

If all we cared about were examples of specific phraseology pulled from documents from nearly 250 years ago, we’d be on thin ice understanding the culture within which they were used and the reasons certain writers chose to use them. But we have scores of quotes by the authors of the Constitution and their peers that manifest their insistence on the importance of the citizenry owning and using (therefore carrying as well as “bearing”) arms routinely for proper purposes, including hunting, target practice, and self-protection. Gentlemen in America like Washington and Jefferson carried pistols routinely. More common folk had their muskets and rifles at hand whenever they decided they could be useful.


From Wallbuilders:

John Dickinson, Constitution signer: affirmed that inalienable rights such as self-defense were rights “which G-d gave to you and which no inferior power has a right to take away.”

Fisher Ames, a framer of the Bill of Rights: “The right … of bearing arms … is declared to be inherent in the people.”

From Buckeye Firearms:

Thomas Jefferson: “Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.”

Jefferson, again: “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”

And again: “The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature [as to] disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

From the Lonang Institute:

Revolutionary militia colonel and then Federal judge, Henry St. George Tucker, 1803: “In many parts of the United States, a man no more thinks of going out of his house on any occasion, without his rifle or musket in his hand, than a European fine gentleman without his sword by his side.”

These quotes are just a fraction of the evidence (but more than the corpus linguistics scam offers). There is a great deal more, from many, many sources. In a very timely new work by Stephen Halbrook The Right to Bear Arms, you can find it all. He presented this in briefer form in a Federalist Society Review (Volume 21), beginning here.

There will be other attempts to obfuscate the straightforward promise of the Second Amendment by those who are afraid of “the people” and believe in the select few controlling every aspect of life. Plato would have approved, but democracy prevails, at least so far. If you like, here are other excellent arguments from vocabulary and syntax from 1998 by Sheldon Richman at the Foundation for Economic Education (h/t to TheTruthAboutGuns). The Second Amendment’s purpose is timeless, and meant the same in 1789 as in 1998, and as in 2021.

Shakespeare, in this essay’s title “play” on words, precisely labels the usefulness of corpus linguistics research for understanding the Second Amendment. Will also long ago nailed the irrelevance of the wisdom of such elites: “Words, words, words” … “You speak an infinite deal of nothing.”

Connecticut Citizens Defense League Sues Multiple Cites Over Gun Permitting Delays

H/T AmmoLand.

I hope  The Connecticut Citizens Defense League is successful with their lawsuits.


Southbury, Connecticut  – -(  The Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) announced recently that it filed a federal civil rights action in the United States District Court against the Police Chiefs of Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, and Waterbury to stop their blatant and ongoing violations of CCDL members’ right to keep and bear arms and other constitutional rights.

CCDL was forced to bring suit after learning that these cities are unjustifiably delaying law-abiding city residents’ applications for municipal firearm permits, the first step in applying for a state-issued pistol permit.

The CCDL is bringing this action on behalf of its many members in each of Connecticut’s largest cities. CCDL is joined in this action by individual plaintiffs from each of the cities:


OREL JOHNSON: Orel went to the Hartford Police Department in June to apply for a municipal firearm permit. Orel was directed to put his name on a list, and told that Hartford PD would call him when it was ready to accept his application. Orel has followed up on numerous occasions since, but Hartford PD will still not take his application.

SHAQUANNA WILLIAMS: Shaquanna went to the New Haven Police Department in August to apply for a municipal firearm permit. Her documents were already completed, and she had already paid to have her fingerprints taken. New Haven PD refused to take Shaquanna’s application, and instead gave her an appointment in March 2022 just to submit her application. By then, her fingerprints will be stale and she will have to pay again for new fingerprints.

ANNE CORDERO: Anne has been trying to submit her application for a municipal firearm permit to the Bridgeport Police Department since last year. In June, Bridgeport PD finally instructed her to sign up for an appointment to submit her application. Bridgeport’s first available appointment just to submit her application is late January 2022.

JAMIE EASON: Jamie managed to submit his application to the Waterbury Police Department in August, at which time he was informed that the Waterbury PD will not finish processing his application for about forty-eight weeks (eleven months) even though state statutes require no more than an eight week (two month) turnaround time.

“In addition to violating these citizen’s constitutional right to access the permitting process, these cities are notorious for violating their resident’s constitutional rights by excessively delaying the application process. The CCDL is standing up for the residents of these cities, many of whom are minorities fighting for their right to keep and bear arms for personal protection. It is unfathomable that those charged with enforcing our laws would so blatantly violate them by delaying the process to exercise a constitutional right,” said Holly Sullivan, CCDL President.

Attorney Doug Dubitsky and Attorney Craig Fishbein are representing CCDL and the individual plaintiffs in this federal civil rights action.

Below the Radar: 3D Printed Gun Safety Act of 2021, an Attack on Free Speech

H/T AmmoLand.

Here we go again DemocRats attacking a non problem.


United States – -( Technology has changed a great deal since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791. This is beyond dispute, and it is something that Second Amendment supporters have to deal with when trying to convince their friends, family, and neighbors to back our Second Amendment rights against certain assaults.

Anti-Second Amendment extremists often claim that the Founders had no clue that something like the AR-15 could exist and as such, it is not protected by the Second Amendment. Well, that argument is bullshit, and in a way, the Supreme Court has already said so. In Caetano v. Massachusetts, Massachusetts saw its ban on stun guns get thrown out on Second Amendment grounds.


One could argue that stun guns are/were even less likely to be predicted or anticipated by the Founders.

So, when we look at the 3D Printed Gun Safety Act of 2021, introduced by Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) in the House as HR 4225 and by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) in the Senate as S 2319, we see a clearly unconstitutional piece of legislation on Second Amendment grounds. It is hard to imagine this bill not being struck down by the Supreme Court, especially when one considers the current alignment.

Both Markey and Deutch have appalling records on Second Amendment issues, but with this bill, they are also attacking the First Amendment as well.

As the summary for S 2319 puts it, “This bill makes it unlawful to intentionally publish digital instructions for programming a three-dimensional printer to make a firearm.”

When AmmoLand News covered an earlier iteration of the bill, the major news then was about then-New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewel’s attempt to bully A ruling out of the Ninth Circuit, of all places, seems to be putting the kibosh on that front. But the fight will go on in Congress and state legislatures.

One of the things Second Amendment supporters will have to confront is that 3D printing and programmable CNC machines are going to be game-changers in the field of firearms manufacturing. For one thing, it could be possible for manufacturers to put out-of-production guns back on the market via blueprints for a 3D printer – for instance, allowing someone to make a replica of a Smith and Wesson 1076, which has been out of production since 1993.

Second Amendment supporters need to contact their Senators and Representatives and politely urge them to oppose HR 4225 and S 2319. In addition, they need to support pro-Second Amendment organizations and work to defeat anti-Second Amendment extremists in office at the federal, state, and local levels via the ballot box as soon as possible.

Air Force One Facts That Show It’s More Than Just An Airplane

H/T War History OnLine.

Air Force One is a very amazing aircraft.

Air Force One has been the famous transport aircraft for US presidents since the late 1980s. It is recognised around the world in its white, blue and gold livery, marking the arrival or departure of one of the most powerful individuals on the planet.

With such an important and unique role, it is only natural that the aircraft is packed with plenty of interesting facts and is preceded by a fascinating history. Here is a list of facts about the president’s ride.

1. Air Force One isn’t a single aircraft

Air Force One Facts
An officer stands guard next to Air Force One at Cointrin airport as US President Joe Biden arrives in Geneva on June 15, 2021, on the eve of a US – Russia meeting. (Photo by DENIS BALIBOUSE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by DENIS BALIBOUSE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Probably the most important fact on this list is about the name “Air Force One,” which isn’t actually the name of an aircraft at all. Normally, the name is used to refer to either of the two presidential Boeing VC-25 aircraft, but it is in fact the call sign for any United States Air Force (USAF) aircraft carrying the president. When a president flies on a civilian aircraft, it is given the call sign “Executive One.”

Aircraft designated as presidential transports before the VC-25 and any in the future all receive the same Air Force One name when carrying the president. Despite this, the two current VC-25s are referred to as Air Force One even when the president is not on board.

2. The president and vice president never fly aboard the same aircraft

For security reasons, the president and vice president are prohibited from flying on the same aircraft at the same time. Instead, the vice president flies in Air Force Two, which today usually refers to the Boeing C-32.

Joe Biden was aboard Air Force Two during a bird strike in 2012, forcing it to land. Another bird strike occurred in 2020 with Mike Pence on board. Had either of these ended in a crash with the president and vice president on board, the nation’s two most powerful political figures would have been lost at once. Clearly, the rule is in place for good reason.

3. Air Force One is a heavily modified civilian aircraft

Air Force One Landing
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – JULY 13: Air Force One carrying the President of the United States, Donald Trump, and First Lady, Melania Trump touches down at Glasgow Prestwick Airport on July 13, 2018, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Air Force One is a VC-25; a heavily modified version of the long-lived Boeing 747 passenger jet. Only two such aircraft currently exist, and both can serve as Air Force One. They can be identified by their tail numbers, which are 28000 and 29000.

The aircraft’s interior is customized to the needs of the commander-in-chief but has also been modified for the less glamourous requirements for such a role. One such change is the addition of in-flight refueling, which effectively gives Air Force One unlimited time in the air, depending on the aircraft’s consumables.

Although it has this useful feature, the aircraft has never needed to use it while transporting a president.

4. All electronics aboard Air Force One are protected against attacks

Air Force One Electronics are protected
DENVER – AUGUST 19: Exhibit curator James Warlick (L), sits in an interior replica of Air Force One outside Invesco Field, site of the finale of the 2008 Democratic National Convention August 19, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

As is to be expected, Air Force One carries a huge amount of electronics for leisure, communication, and running the country. Normally, technology onboard an aircraft in the air is vulnerable to attack, but the electronics contained within Air Force One are protected against hacking and electromagnetic pulses. For physical attacks, the aircraft can deploy chaff and flares to confuse incoming missiles and its windows are bulletproof.

In addition to this, the aircraft carries a classified type of “advanced secure communications equipment.” The White House guarantees that Air Force One contains everything the president needs to deal with a crisis while in flight.

5. Air Force One is quick

Air Force One Speed
DAYTONA, FL – FEBRUARY 16: Air Force One flies underneath the Goodyear blimp prior to the running of the 62nd annual Daytona 500 on February 16, 2020 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida (Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Although it has to lug around the president’s entourage, their possessions and all the associated equipment to serve as the president’s VIP transport, Air Force One is no slouch. It can fly at over 600 mph, faster than the standard civilian version of the 747 that cruises at around 570 mph.

6. It is like a flying hotel

Air Force One is equipped to carry 76 passengers, including the president. To cater to these needs, spread over its three floors the aircraft contains an office, bathroom, bedroom, 85 phones, and a conference room to serve as a flying Oval Office. For any medical issues or emergencies, Air Force One has its own medical room, operating room, and a doctor, who travels with the aircraft on every flight.

To cater for the many mouths on board the aircraft, Air Force One has two kitchens that have the capacity to feed 100 people at once and provide up to 2,000 meals on a single flight.

7. Air Force One will never stop at an airport terminal

Air Force One Built-in Stairs
An Air Force personnel mans his position at the back staircase of Air Force One before US President Barack Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on February 26, 2014, to travel to St. Paul, Minnesota. Obama is traveling to St Paul to announce new competition encouraging investments to create jobs and restore infrastructure as part of the President’s Year of Action. (Photo Credit: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images)

Not parking up at an airport terminal is another one of Air Force One’s quirks. This is done for two main reasons; security and to enable a quick take-off if needed. Maneuvering such a large aircraft in and out of an airport terminal is a difficult process and could cost the president valuable time in an emergency.

Luckily, Air Force One has its own built-in stairs, so they don’t need to rely on foreign amenities.

8. It’s Painted Robin’s Egg Blue because of Jackie Kennedy

Air Force One Paint Job
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA – JANUARY 20: Air Force One lands carrying outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the Palm Beach International Airport on the way to Mar-a-Lago Club on January 20, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Trump left Washington, DC on the last day of his administration before Joe Biden was sworn-in as the 46th president of the United States. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

The light blue exterior color that currently adores the most recent Air Force one aircraft was the brainchild of First Lady Jackie Kennedy and industrial designer Ken Walsh. Jackie Kennedy was working on the color scheme for the plane’s interior design and she was immediately drawn to the light blue that now adorns the aircraft.

Ken Walsh, author of “Air Force One: A History of the Presidents and their Planes” says Jackie Kennedy “felt it was understated but memorable, and President Kennedy agreed,” he said.

The Japanese-American combat unit that earned 4,000 Bronze Stars and 21 Medals of Honor

H/T War History OnLine.

The 442nd Infantry Regiment was the most decorated unit in World War II.

The men of the 442nd define the word hero.

The United States’ most decorated WWII unit was made up of people considered ‘enemy aliens’ at the time. When America joined WWII after the attack on Pearl Harbor in late 1941, they did what many other nations did when at war; gathering and incarcerating citizens from countries they were at war against.

These people were known as ‘enemy aliens,’ and were placed in internment camps after President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which affected over 100,000 Japanese Americans.

The United Kingdom and Germany made similar arrangements for people caught in their country as war was declared against their nations.

Japanese Americans were accepted into the military

442nd Infantry and WWII
Undersecretary of War Robert Patterson congratulates Lt. Masanan Otake of Lahaina, Hawaii, for the outstanding job done by Otake and other members of the 100th Battalion of the 442nd Infantry, which was composed of voluteers from Japanese-American internment camps. General Mark Clark stands behind Undersecretary Patterson. (Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

After the war was declared against Japan, many US citizens feared that Japanese Americans’ loyalties may lie with Japan, not the US. Soon after the signing of EO9066, discrimination against Japanese Americans increased dramatically.

However, few realized that most Japanese Americans were just as angry about the attacks on Pearl Harbor. In Hawaii, people with Japanese ancestry made up such a large percentage of the population that it was deemed impractical to intern them. But because of the genuine risk of a Japanese invasion of Hawaii, many were still worried about their loyalties.

Because of this, 1,300 soldiers with Japanese ancestry were removed from the Hawaiian National Guard and made into the 100th Infantry Battalion. The battalion was sent to the US for training.

Going for broke

With the success of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the US decided to establish another Japanese American unit, the 442nd Infantry Regiment, which was activated in February 1943. To begin with, most of its members were Hawaiian.

The unit trained for combat from its inception until mid-1944. As US top brass was still unsure of the soldiers’ loyalties, the 442nd would not be sent to the Pacific Theatre of war.

During training, a number of men from the 442nd would be sent as replacements to the 100th Infantry Battalion, who had been shipped off to fight in late 1943. Their training was much harsher and more intense than usual US units, as officers wanted to test their loyalty.

The 442nd settled on the motto “Go For Broke,” and shipped out to Europe in April 1944, arriving in Italy in June 1944.

Upon their arrival, they began fighting the Germans alongside the 100th Infantry Regiment and quickly proved to be an extremely capable fighting force. In August 1944 the 100th was absorbed in the 442nd, with both serving as a single fighting force.

The unit joined the invasion of Southern France in September and made its way to the Vosges Mountains. It was here that the 442nd showed many tremendous feats of courage, grit and determination in the face of the enemy.

The Lost Battalion

442nd during WWII
Americans of Japanese descent, Infantrymen of the 442nd Regiment, run for cover as a German artillery shell is about to land outside the building. Italy. April 4, 1945. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

In October 1944, the 141st Infantry Regiment launched an attack against German lines in the Vosges Mountains. The attack quickly bogged down and faced stiff resistance from the Germans, who were able to cut off 275 men from the 141st’s 1st Battalion deep behind enemy lines.

Without any easy means of rescue, the 141st was told to dig in.

To keep the men supplied, Allied aircraft attempted to air-drop supplies, but terrible weather caused many of the deliveries to fall into the hands of the enemy. Multiple attempts by different units were made over the course of a week to relieve the men, but all had failed.

As a result, the 442nd was called in to make another attempt. Initially, they made little progress due to the weather (around 20 feet of visibility) and poor ground conditions that favored the Germans.

The men fought extremely hard in an uphill battle against the Germans and suffered heavy losses. All seemed to be lost until the men of the 442nd launched a spontaneous Banzai charge at the Germans who fled at the sight of them. They had finally relieved the 141st.

Highly decorated

WWII most highly decorated group
2nd August 1944: American General Mark Clark (1896 – 1984), commander of the Allied Fifth Army in Italy, fastens the citation streamers on the quidons of the 100th battalion flag as the color guard stands at attention. The group, a Japanese-American infantry battlion of the 442nd regimental combat team, received the citation streamers for outstanding performance of duties in the Mediterranean theatre. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Around 18,000 men fought in the unit throughout their involvement in the war. The men who served earned 4,000 Bronze Stars, over 4,000 Purple Hearts, 560 Silver Star Medals, 21 Medals of Honor, and seven Presidential Unit Citations. This made them the most decorated unit of WWII.

In 2010, the 442nd was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition for the extremely brave actions of its members during WWII.

The Biggest Traitors In Military History

H/T War History OnLine.

I say if you are convicted of treason then you should be executed immediately.

Military traitors are some of the most despised historical figures, but they are also some of the most fascinating. It is mind-boggling to consider how one could betray their own country and comrades and directly bring death to what was once their own allies.

Over the course of history, traitors have come in many forms. Some do it for the money, others seek revenge, while there are those that do it just to satisfy their own narcissism. After changing sides they usually aren’t accepted because if they can do it to their own people, they can do it to anyone.

In this list, we have collected some of the most infamous military traitors of all time.

Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold
Thi engraving depicts American army officer Benedict Arnold (1741 – 1801), seated at a table, as he hands papers to British officer John Andre (1750 – 1780) during the American Revolutionary War, mid to late 18th century. Arnold eventually formally switched sides and joining the British. (Photo by Stock Montage)

Benedict Arnold is one of the most well-known names on this list. Arnold was a brave and brilliant officer in the American Continental Army while fighting in the Revolutionary War. After proving his worth on a number of occasions and receiving brutal injuries, Arnold felt other officers in the Army were taking some of the credit for his achievements and being favored over him for promotions.

Even though he was highly trusted by George Washington, Arnold became disillusioned with the side he was fighting for. In 1780 he defected to the British after offering to hand over West Point in return for a position as a general in the British Army. The British never captured West Point, but Arnold did betray America, fighting against the troops he once led, now as a brigadier general in the British Army. In the US today, his name is synonymous with the word traitor.

Alred Redl

Alfred Redl Picture
1st October 1890: The spy, Colonel Alfred Redl. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Alfred Redl was the head of the counter-intelligence branch in the Austro-Hungarian Army and pioneered counter-espionage techniques. Between 1903 and 1913 Redl secretly worked as a spy for the intelligence service of the Imperial Russian Army, using his position in his own intelligence services to hand over extremely valuable documents.

Of the course of his spying career, Redl gave the Russians the entire Austrian invasion plan for Serbia, Austrian military plans, doctrines, tactics, and strength. He also used his position to provide the names of agents working as spies against Russia. Even worse, he sent spies into Russia, only to then inform Russian authorities.

Redl is believed to be responsible for the deaths of half a million Austrians and part of the reason for Austria-Hungary’s poor military performance during WWI. In 1913, he was outed as a spy using techniques he had developed. After this discovery, Redl committed suicide.

Harold ‘Paul’ Cole

Harold "Paul" Cole
Harold Cole arrested by the police and photo taken on 13 February 1939 (Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Public Domain)

A petty criminal, thief, and fraud, Harold Cole was one of Britain’s most notorious WWII traitors. He worked alongside the French Resistance in the early years of the war, helping soldiers and downed pilots return to England via escape lines from France. He was a prominent member of the organization, but would eventually betray them to the Gestapo in late 1941.

He handed over the names of about 150 people working on the escape lines or for the French Resistance. Around 50 of them were either executed or died in Nazi concentration camps. Over the course of the war, he was wanted by the British, Germans, and the French. He was killed in a gunfight with French police in 1946.

Robert Hanssen

Robert Hanssen
385795 01: FILE PHOTO: FBI Agent Robert Philip Hanssen is shown in this undated file photo, released by the FBI February 20, 2001. Hanssen was arrested two days ago and accused of spying for Russia, allegedly giving the KGB the names of three Russian intelligence agents working for the United States, the FBI said in a press conference today. (Photo courtesy of FBI/Newsmakers)

Described as “possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history,” Robert Hanssen is the most recent traitor on this list. He worked as an FBI agent from 1976 to 2001, but spent almost all of that time selling top-secret information to the Soviets and then the Russians. He leaked information about US spying equipment, like radar and spy satellites, and also revealed the names of US agents spying on the Soviets.

He famously informed the Soviets about a highly secret and expensive eavesdropping tunnel built under the Soviet Embassy by the FBI. On one occasion, he was tasked with identifying a mole within the FBI. The mole was actually himself, which made it easy for him to cover his tracks.

Hanssen remained anonymous throughout his spying activities. After a long investigation by the FBI, they discovered Hanssen was a spy and arrested him during a dead drop on February 18, 2001. Hanssen, who is now 77, is serving 15 consecutive life sentences at the ADX Florence supermax prison in Colorado.

Wang Jingwei

Wang Jingwei
Wang Jingwei led the puppet government of China during its occupation by the Japanese. Ca. 1940s. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

A Chinese politician, Wang Jingwei’s contributions to China are murky. He was a left-leaning politician in pre-communist China that often clashed with rival Chiang Kai-shek. Near the beginning of WWII, Jingwei made a deal with Japan to hand over Nanking in return for him being given a puppet government to run in collaboration with the Japanese empire.

Jingwei agreed to the deal.

He died just before the end of WWII. Once Japan had been defeated, Chiang Kai-shek’s government moved back to Nanking, where they proceeded to destroy Jingwei’s tomb and burn his body.

A Brief History of Sunglasses

H/T Sunglass Museum.

A very interesting look back at sunglasses.

The right pair of shades can make or break an outfit. But just who do we have to thank for this sartorial — yet practical — invention?

Primitive sunglasses were worn by the Inuit all the way back in prehistoric times, but these were merely walrus ivory with slits in them — good for helping with snow blindness but not particularly fashionable (unless you were a prehistoric Inuit). See our version, the Hitomi sunglass.

primitive sunglasses

Image: Anavik at Banks Peninsula, Bathurst Inlet, Northwest Territories (Nunavut), May 18, 1916, Photo by Rudolph Martin Anderson, Canadian, 1876–1961, Canadian Museum of Civilization, 39026.

Legend has it that the emperor Nero watched gladiator fights wearing emerald lenses, but many historians cite this claim as iffy.

The Chinese made a slight improvement over the Inuit model in the 12th century, when they used smoky quartz for lenses, but the specs were used for concealing judges’ facial expressions rather than style or sunlight purposes. In the mid-1700s, a London optician began experimenting with green lenses to help with certain vision problems — and, indeed, green is the best color for protecting your peepers from the sun’s rays. Emerald-tinted specs remained quite the rage for some time, as evidenced by several mentions in the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe.

It wasn’t until the 20th century that modern sunglasses as we know them were invented. In 1929, Sam Foster began selling the first mass-produced shades, which soon became a hot fashion item on the Atlantic City boardwalk. A few years later, Bausch & Lomb got in on the act when the company began making sunglasses for American military aviators, a design that has changed little since General Douglas MacArthur sparked a new trend when he wore a pair to the movies.

In the decades since, sunglasses have enjoyed various degrees of popularity and more than a few design upgrades. Perhaps the most important technological improvement has been polarized lens, introduced in the 1930s, which help to further reduce glare and also reduce the risk of eye damage due to UV light.

And there you have it — a little conversation fodder for your next dinner party.

Aboard World War II Airplanes, It Was Strictly Smoking Allowed

H/T Smithsonian Magazine.

Marlboro Country reached all the way up to 40,000 feet.

nose gunner of an aircraft smokes
Even in the nose section of a Martin B-26B Marauder, an airman could take a drag. The nose gunner of the B-26 Fightin’ Cock, based in the U.K. with the 9th Air Force, smokes during a mission. (Colour by RJM / USAF Historical Research Center Photo)

As a flight of Marine Corsairs cruised over the Pacific, Lieutenant Robert McClurg watched the canopy of his leader’s aircraft intently. Gregory “Pappy” Boyington had his seat cranked all the way down and he was chain-smoking as usual.

Pilots were not supposed to smoke cigarettes in their fighters. It was a clear fire hazard. After all, a warplane was a flimsy aluminum shell wrapped around a conglomeration of stuff that naturally wanted to burn or explode—fuel, hydraulic fluid, oil, oxygen, weaponry. Adding a lit cigarette to that mix was perilous.

But Boyington wasn’t exactly a “by-the-book” type of guy. On the ground, he was a heavy drinker and, as he described in his autobiography, “an incessant smoker.” While on the job, hunting Japanese aircraft, one thing Boyington did not leave behind was his cigarettes.

As McClurg related in Boyington’s 1958 book Baa Baa Black Sheep, “I always know when we’re going into combat.” Keenly observing his leader, he looked for a break in the chain. When Boyington straightened up, cracked his canopy, and flicked his half-smoked Camel into the ocean, it was a sure sign that things were about to happen.

Gregory Boyington
When stationed in New Zealand in 1943, Gregory “Pappy” Boyington took no chance of being without a smoke: He had American cigarettes shipped to him. (National Archives)

“Nearly everyone smoked in those days,” Army aviator Lieutenant James Alter wrote in his 2011 book, From Campus to Combat, “and considering the kind of work we were doing, no one would have been too worried about lung cancer even if we had known about it. What we did know was that Chesterfields satisfied; we’d walk a mile for a Camel; and just like us, Lucky Strike Green had gone to war.”

America supplied cigarettes to military men in stunning numbers during World War II. Philip Morris and other U.S. tobacco suppliers reported rolling and selling 290 billion smokes in 1943. In order to relieve boredom and improve the morale of fighting men, cigarettes came standard inside K-ration boxes along with candy and gum. If young soldiers and sailors wanted more, cigarettes were just 50 cents a carton or a nickel a pack. As a result, tobacco consumption skyrocketed during the war.

In the early 1940s, even the president smoked, as did glamorous movie stars like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. And young men who dreamed of fighting in the skies looked up to Eddie Rickenbacker. America’s top World War I ace had been puffing on cigarettes since age five.

Smoking, in fact, could even help a prospective flier get accepted into the service. “When I went in for the physical exam, my blood pressure was too low,” Calvin Sanders told an interviewer in 2003. “They would not accept me. They took my three buddies, which, of course, disappointed me terrible.” The doctor told him, “ ‘Go out and smoke a cigarette,’ which I did, and it raised my blood pressure. And he says, ‘You’re okay.’ And they let me in.” Sanders later became a B-17 navigator, flying combat missions over Germany.

We can imagine the briefing and carrier ready rooms from Bassingbourn to Tarawa were almost constantly filled with a stifling wall of blue cigarette smoke, but many of these fliers didn’t snuff out their last cigarette and then take off—they continued smoking inside their aircraft.

Camel billboard in Times Square
Installed in 1941, the iconic Times Square Camel cigarette billboard was on display for 26 years. The billboard, featuring a pilot smoking, used steam to simulate the appearance of cigarette smoke. (LOC)

Echoing the themes of mortality and fate illustrated in the first chapters of The Right Stuff, pilot Lance Teillon wrote online in 2011, “[Smoking is] obviously not beneficial, nevertheless a good number of us did smoke. I remember, during my annual physical one year, asking the doctor if he was going to lecture me on stopping smoking.” Then Teillon told the doctor he flew carrier fighters: “He looked at me and said, ‘Don’t bother stopping.’ ”

Warplanes took life violently and suddenly, while cigarettes took decades to do their work. Navy standout and Medal of Honor recipient Edward “Butch” O’Hare was a loyal Camel smoker. He died when his Hellcat disappeared near the Gilbert Islands before his 30th birthday.

Neel Kearby, another Medal of Honor aviator, was dead by 32. One novice aviator recalled mock dogfighting with the famous ace before Kearby was lost in combat. Frantically doing everything he could to shake this aerial virtuoso, the young man turned in his seat to witness a final indignity. As Kearby’s aircraft closed in on his tail, the pilot was casually lighting his smoke behind the gunsight.

Considering the odds, smoking was an insignificant risk. In his book, Fighter Pilot, U.S. Army Air Forces ace Robin Olds described wanting to smoke to calm down after avoiding a more immediate death. In a tussle with a Bf 109, Olds nearly plunged his P-38 straight into the ground. The high-speed pullout had torn out the left canopy panel. “My hands shook as I tried to light a cigarette as I flew on toward England,” he wrote. “No way, not with the wind. Damn, I was [expletive] freezing!”

Many of the giants in military aviation in the 1940s smoked. Marine ace Joe Foss flew with a cigar, though often unlit. Claire Lee Chennault was a chain-smoker, burning through two or more packs of Camels each day. And General Curtis LeMay, after 1944, was hardly ever seen without his trademark stogie.

ad for Chesterfield cigarettes featuring two servicemen smoking
Chesterfield was one of many tobacco companies to feature servicemen—during both world wars—in its advertisements. (Courtesy eBay)

Lieutenant Colonel Olin Gilbert, the leader of the 78th Fighter Group, was racing for home through the clouds at 1,000 feet after a mission. Thinking he was safe, he loosened his seat straps, reached for a smoke, and lit it. Just then, a battery of radar-guided flak found his airplane, jolting him with terrifying blasts. “I never did find that cigarette,” Gilbert said later.

Chuck Yeager was a non-smoker and, it is worth noting, lived to age 97. In a 2013 question-and-answer session on Facebook, he revealed a possible reason why he didn’t smoke: “My flight leader insisted on smoking a pipe on return [from a mission]. He’d have to fly low to light it. One time flying low…he got shot down.”

A lot of fliers were sensible enough to abstain from smoking while breathing oxygen. However, there were many exceptions. In an oral history collection published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in 1993, top Navy ace David McCampbell described waiting out a group of Japanese bombers while flying at high altitude. Killing time, he elevated his smoking game: “I have been questioned about smoking a cigarette at 18,000 feet,” he said. “You can do it, because both my wingman and I did! It’s quite simple. You just pull the oxygen mask away from your face, put in a cigarette, and light it. You get the cigarette lit, put your mask back on, and periodically pull the mask away, take a puff on the cigarette, and then put your mask back on. You do this until you finish your cigarette, then throw the cigarette butt out the window. You crack the cockpit hood a little so the smoke will go out too.”

An Eighth Air Force B-24 pilot named Warren Blower adds some more detail to the high-altitude technique: “You could take a breath of oxygen and then take the mask away and take a drag on the cigarette and take another drag of oxygen. But you could smoke a cigarette for half an hour and it practically didn’t burn at all, the oxygen was so thin in the air. But when you got tired of smoking and you didn’t want to smoke anymore, [you could] take a deep breath of oxygen and blow through the cigarette and make the flame this long.”

men unloading aircraft of supplies
Men of the 12th Bomb Group, based in Italy, unload candy, supplies, and cigarettes. (National Archives)

For better or worse, most fiercely independent fighter pilots agreed that bomber crewmen are simply a different breed. (And for bomber crews, the feeling was mutual.) As far as fighter jocks were concerned, multi-engine bomber men audaciously treated their aircraft like expansive flying smoking lounges.

Some aircraft manuals, in fact, assumed bomber crews would smoke and set up ground rules. Under the subsection “Smoking,” Consolidated’s B-24 Pilot Training Manual says: “A. No smoking in the airplane at an altitude of less than 1,000 feet. B. No smoking during fuel transfer. C. Never carry a lighted cigarette through bomb bays. D. Never attempt to throw a lighted cigarette from the airplane. Put it out first.”

“Lark Morgan, our tail gunner, smoked with his oxygen mask on,” recalled gunner Bud Guillot on a B-24 website. “He would move the mask to one side of his face and stick a cigarette in the corner of his mouth and then pull a little of the mask over the lip holding the cigarette. One could easily judge the ferocity of each mission by the number of cigarette butts on the floor of Morgan’s tail turret.”

At some stations in the aircraft, crewmen didn’t even have to use the floor. Manufacturers, anticipating long-duration flights, equipped many multi-crew aircraft of the era with ashtrays. Rather than spending time creating their own designs, they often acquired overstocked 1930s samples of “ash receptors” from automobile companies.

The forward section of Flak-Bait (the Martin B-26B Marauder that was on display at the National Air and Space Museum for decades, and is undergoing restoration and will be again displayed at the Museum in 2022) is equipped with 1939 Dodge pickup truck ashtrays. An observer could clearly see one installed next to the radio operator’s desk. But not every cigarette butt made it to its proper place. As Museum staffers cleaned the aircraft for display, they found numerous discarded smokes, along with gum wrappers, chaff fragments, machine gun shells, and bomb fuse tags, sifted into the belly of the bomber.

man holding magpies, one with a cigarette in its mouth
Radioman Sergeant Giovanni Longo and his cleverly named magpies “Dot” and “Dash” pretend to share a cigarette in 1944. (National Archives)

Many Vega and Consolidated aircraft flew with aftermarket surface-mounted dome “ash receptors.” Boeing somehow finagled a huge supply of 1935-1936 Ford passenger car ashtrays, which appeared in the cockpits of thousands of B-17s, B-29s, B-47s, and beyond.

In the big bombers, the smoking light wasn’t always on. Warren Blower discussed a hair-raising event when two of the three sides of the classic “fire triangle”—heat, fuel, and oxygen—were added to the belly of his B-24. An open flame would have led to disaster. “There was a fuel transfer pump right on the catwalk in bomb bays. And this thing apparently blew its seal and was spraying gasoline all over. And so we were just in the process of opening the bomb doors and getting it ventilated out when one of the oxygen lines goes. So we were full of gasoline and oxygen for a little while. We put the landing gear down so we could get some air through the nose [and] let it breathe out. When we were pretty well settled down again, I got on the intercom and I says, ‘I don’t suppose I have to tell anybody not to smoke.’ ”

From time to time, American warplanes inexplicably detonated in a ball of flame and very few lived to discuss the cause. A devastating blast sparked by a lighter or cigarette is still one of the leading theories to explain the fate of the Martin Mariner flying boat sent to search for Flight 19 over the Bermuda Triangle in 1945.

Then there is this tantalizing tidbit from the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives, relating the fate of a C-47 over Burma that same year. The “causes” write-up explains: “The captain was lighting a cigarette while holding his oxygen tube. The Zippo lighter flame caused the gasoline in the lighter to explode. The fireball set the C-47 on fire. All 3 crew members bailed out successfully over the Hukawng Valley.”

nurse smokes onboard an aircraft
Flight nurse Lieutenant Leona Ldzikowski relaxes with a smoke while flying to a forward airfield to collect her patients. (National Archives)

Some aviators fought like hell to keep smokers off their flights. In a 2013 Library of Congress oral history, cargo pilot Donald Krambeck related his pre-flight announcement in the China-Burma-India Theater. As their fuel-loaded Liberator lined up at the end of the runway, he said, “Now, we’ve got to have a minute and a half for our prayer, and nobody smokes on this airplane because the fumes just surround you and, kaboom, you’re gone.”

Cruising toward some remote base in China, Krambeck continued the story: “We had barrels that we had used and used and they all leaked. 100 octane gas was on the floor, and I told the co-pilot, ‘Hold the course. I’m going back and figure out who’s smoking.’ This guy was crouched down behind a 55-gallon barrel smoking a cigarette and I said, ‘Do you want to die? Do you want me to die? Do you want the co-pilot to die? And do you want to lose this airplane?’ He was just shaking. I said, ‘Well, don’t put that out in the gas.’ So he put it out in the palm of his hand.”

Not everyone had that degree of vigilance. In an oral history, radarman Anthony Adams related a wheels-up landing in a B-29 at Saipan. “Well, all right,” he said when they crunched to a stop, spilling out the last of their fuel over the runway. “It wasn’t that bad. We all got out of the airplane and everybody lit up cigarettes like idiots.”

How a Deadly Railroad Strike Led to the Labor Day Holiday


When the federal government was called in to suppress a railroad workers’ strike, dozens were killed and politicians sought a way to show they still supported work

Today many Americans see Labor Day as time off from work, an opportunity to enjoy a barbecue with friends and family and a final moment of summertime relaxation before the busy fall season begins.

But the history behind the Labor Day holiday is far more complex and dramatic than most might realize, starting with a heated campaign by workers in the late 19th century to win support and recognition for their contributions. In July 1894, President Grover Cleveland finally signed into law legislation creating a national Labor Day holiday in early September—even as federal troops in Chicago brutally crushed a strike by railroad and Pullman sleeping car company workers, leaving some 30 people dead.

Early History of Labor Day Celebrations

The First Labor Day Parade, September 1882

Illustration of the first American Labor parade held in New York City on September 5, 1882 as it appeared in Frank Leslie’s Weekly Illustrated Newspaper’s September 16, 1882 issue.

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

More than a decade before the Pullman strike, some 10,000 to 20,000 people joined a parade through Lower Manhattan, organized by New York City’s Central Labor Union on September 5, 1882. “The windows and roofs and even the lamp posts and awning frames were occupied by persons anxious to get a good view of the first parade in New York of workingmen of all trades united in one organization,” reported the New York Tribune of that first Labor Day celebration.

Throughout the 1880s, labor strikes became increasingly common, with workers protesting their long hours and difficult, sometimes even dangerous, working conditions. In May 1886, the growing tensions between labor and capital exploded into violence during a protest rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. Eight anarchists were eventually convicted on murder charges and four were executed.

After the Haymarket Riot, labor organizers and socialists in countries around the world began celebrating May 1 as Workers Day—an occasion U.S. government officials had no interest in sanctioning. Meanwhile, other cities had followed New York’s lead in holding Labor Day celebrations in early September. In 1887, Oregon became the first state to make it an official holiday; by 1894, 22 other states had passed similar legislation.

Outbreak of the Pullman Strike

HISTORY of Labor Day: The Pullman Strike

A mob burning freight cars during the Pullman Strike in Chicago, 1894.

Fotosearch/Getty Images

In 1893, during a nationwide economic recession, George Pullman laid off hundreds of employees and cut wages for many of the remaining workers at his namesake railroad sleeping car company by some 30 percent. Meanwhile, he refused to lower rents or store prices in Pullman, Illinois, the company town south of Chicago where many of his employees lived.

Angry Pullman workers walked out in May 1894, and the following month, the American Railway Union (ARU) and its leader, Eugene V. Debs, declared a sympathy boycott of all trains using Pullman cars.

Call Number: VAULT Ruggles 12
Title: Attention workingmen! : Great mass meeting tonight at 7:30 o’clock at the Haymarket …
Published: [Chicago : s.n., 1886]
Physical Description: 1 broadside ; 25 x 17 cm.
Subject (LCSH): 	Haymarket Square Riot, Chicago, Ill., 1886.
Chicago (Ill.) –History –1875-
Notes: Text: Good speakers will be present to denounce the latest atrocious act of the police, the shooting of our fellow-workmen yesterday afternoon. [Signed] The executive committee.
Photograph of broadside, Attention workingmen!  Great mass meeting tonight, @ 300 dpi
Date: 2005
HISTORY: Homestead Strike

The Pullman strike effectively halted rail traffic and commerce in 27 states stretching from Chicago to the West Coast, driving the General Managers Association (GMA), a group that represented Chicago’s railroad companies, to seek help from the federal government in shutting the strike down.

Federal Injunction, Troops and Violence

HISTORY of Labor Day: The Pullman Strike

Burned freight and coal cars lining the expanse of the Panhandle Railroad, during the Pullman Railway Union strikes in Chicago, July 1894.

Kean Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images

On June 29, some crowd members attending a Debs speech in Blue Island, Illinois, set fires to nearby buildings and derailed a locomotive attached to a U.S. mail train. U.S. Attorney General Richard Olney used the incident as an excuse to ask for an injunction against the strike and its leaders from the federal district court in Chicago, which he got on July 2.

“This was the turning point, because it enjoined the ARU and Debs from doing anything to support or direct the strike,” says Richard Schneirov, professor of history at Indiana State University. “Labor has for much of its history been hemmed in by injunctions, but the Pullman injunction was the first big instance where it really came to the attention of the public.”

The following day, President Cleveland dispatched federal troops to the city to enforce the injunction. Illinois’ pro-labor governor, John Peter Altgeld, who had already called out state militia troops to prevent violence, was outraged, calling the government’s actions unconstitutional. With the arrival of federal troops, the Pullman strike turned bloody, with some rioters destroying hundreds of railroad cars in South Chicago on July 6, and National Guardsmen firing into a mob on July 7, killing as many as 30 people and wounding many others.

The Federal Labor Day Holiday Is Created

Even as Pullman Company and railroad workers were striking, Congress passed legislation in June 1894 making the first Monday in September a federal legal holiday to recognize and celebrate labor. Cleveland signed the bill into law June 28, 1894, a few days before sending federal troops to Chicago.

“It was a way of being supportive of labor,” Schneirov says. “Labor unions were a constituency of the Democratic Party at the time, and it didn’t look good for Cleveland, who was a Democrat, to be putting down this strike.”

Federal troops were recalled from Chicago on July 20, and the Pullman strike was declared over in early August. Debs, arrested at the height of the violence along with several other ARU leaders, was charged with violating the injunction and served six months in jail. Though the ARU disbanded, Debs would emerge as the leader of the nation’s growing socialist movement, running for president five times on the Socialist Party ticket.

Aside from the first major instance of “government by injunction” in the struggle between labor and capital, the Pullman strike also marked part of an important transition in American society during the Progressive Era, and a newly active role for the federal government in the nation’s economic and social life.

Our History

H/T Feeding

I have had to use a food bank in the past.

For 40 years, Feeding America has responded to the hunger crisis in America by providing food to people in need through a nationwide network of food banks. 

The concept of food banking was developed by John van Hengel in Phoenix, AZ in the late 1960s. Van Hengel, a retired businessman, had been volunteering at a soup kitchen trying to find food to serve our neighbors facing hunger. One day, he met a desperate mother who regularly rummaged through grocery store garbage bins to find food for her children. She suggested that there should be a place where, instead of being thrown out, discarded food could be stored for people to pick up—similar to the way “banks” store money for future use. With that, an industry was born.

Van Hengel established St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, AZ as the nation’s first food bank. In its initial year, van Hengel and his team of volunteers distributed 275,000 pounds of food to people in need. Word of the food bank’s success quickly spread, and states began to take note. By 1977, food banks had been established in 18 cities across the country.

As the number of food banks began to increase, van Hengel created a national organization for food banks and in 1979 he established Second Harvest, which was later called America’s Second Harvest the Nation’s Food Bank Network. In 2008, the network changed its name to Feeding America to better reflect the mission of the organization.

Today, Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization—a powerful and efficient network of 200 food banks across the country. As food insecurity rates hold steady at the highest levels ever, the Feeding America network of food banks has risen to meet the need. We feed 40 million people at risk of hunger, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors. Learn more about how we get food to people in need in our “How We Work” section. Support Feeding America and help solve hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate.